Atlanta firm takes families beyond "Life or Debt"

ATLANTA -- The financial rescue process didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling on the new series "Life or Debt," which debuts on Spike TV on Sunday, March 13.

The show hired Wela, an Atlanta-based financial technology firm, to work with the families and keep them on track for 12 months following the show's taping last summer.

"The biggest stumbling block is staying committed to the plan," Wela Co-Founder Matt Reiner told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie. "Motivation is hard. You have to give yourself small wins."

"Life Or Debt" is hosted by Victor Antonio, a Fortune 500 financial strategist, who helps families pull themselves out of economic crisis.

"Like Victor says, you have to run your family like a business," Reiner said. "The families on the show are dealing with the same financial struggles facing a lot of Americans. They have credit card debt. Their houses are underwater."

"They're focused on the wrong things, like buying shoes and electronics" he added. "We spent a lot of time with them on budgeting."

Reiner said Wela continues working with the show's families on four main fundamentals that apply to other families:

  1. Positive cash flow - Spend less than you make.
  2. Emergency reserve - Save up and set aside three to six months worth of expenses in a cash savings account.
  3. Get rid of credit card debt - Keep your credit card balance below 50% of her monthly take-home pay and make sure you don't need more than a month to pay it off.
  4. Build a retirement fund

Reiner said the show doesn't focus on the retirement piece because the families featured are struggling to get cash-flow positive first.

"We've seen progress. They've made tough decision," Reiner explained. "You'll see in this show the strain financial pressures can put on a family. It's important that you understand your decision and make hard decisions early on."


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